Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Prospect Countdown: #24 Reynaldo Navarro

#24 Reynaldo Navarro

Age: 22
Position: SS
Height: 5-10
Weight: 175
B/T: S/R
Acquired: Via trade with ARI on 5/1/10 for Carlos Rosa
From: Caguas, Puerto Rico

The Royals acquired Rey Navarro roughly 20 months ago, for reliever Carlos Rosa. At the time Rosa was considered a borderline top 10 guy for Kansas City, while Navarro was the same for Arizona. Both however, were in the midst of a period that saw each of their values take major hits. Rosa simply stopped getting movement on is fastball, while Navarro was posting uninspired numbers in High-A.

Entering 2011, Navarro had fallen off of the map a bit, and his prospect luster just didn't gleam like it once had. Of course considering the talent in the Royals system, it was easy for mediocre prospects to be lost in the shuffle. But one year later, Navarro has done enough to reenter the collective conscience of the prospect aware Royals Blogosphere and Twitterverse.

I'm still not as high on Reynaldo Navarro as some, because his season numbers are propped up by a tremendous start in Wilmington. With that being said, knocking the cover off the ball for five weeks in the Carolina League isn't a small feat. In fact when one takes a closer look at Navarro's numbers, one finds that maybe Navarro was more consistent in 2011, than his High-A and Double-A batting lines would indicate.

In Wilmington, Navarro posted a 17.8% line drive percentage. In Northwest Arkansas, Navarro actually saw this number jump to 18.9%. Of course a major difference is that in the Carolina League the league average mark is 12.8% instead of the 18.4% mark in the Texas League. But a big reason, why Navarro's power was sapped upon his promotion was a decrease in fly ball percentage from 29.2% to 20.7%.

What was promising was Navarro's ability to adjust his offensive approach to the advanced pitching that comes with a promotion to Double-A baseball. The pitches that Navarro chased outside the strike zone dipped from 24.4% in the Carolina League to 18% in the Texas League (both of the percentages were roughly 1% lower than the league average). Navarro was able to maintain an O-Contact% of roughly 4% higher than the league average.

When you look at the percentage of pitches Navarro offered at inside the strike zone, one finds that after his promotion he actually came in just a couple of percentage points lower than the league average, while in Wilmington this mark was about 9% higher than the league average mark. Navarro's Z-Contact % actually stayed consistent of about 8% higher than the league average.

What these numbers tell me is that, upon his promotion Navarro refined his approach. The pitch details aren't the same at each level, but relative to the league average percentages they are very consistent despite the promotion. The only major difference being Navarro's increased pickiness on which pitches to offer at inside the strike zone.

Navarro will need to continue to make adjustments and refine his approach, but it would appear that he made major strides in 2011. Given his versatility and defensive prowess he could be an extremely useful utility infielder one day. In my mind that is his upside, while some would argue that he could be a solid starting second baseman.

I expect Navarro to open the 2012 season in Northwest Arkansas alongside Christian Colon in the middle of the Naturals' infield. We'll have to wait and see who is on what side of the bag.

Picture credit: Milb.com

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